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Tales from the Neighborhood: Developer Appreciation Week

Columns By Jessica Cook on April 08, 2015

Developer Appreciation Week

What’s got everyone talking and writing this week? Find out in Tales from the Neighborhood!

One of the unique features of the blogosphere is that over time you can watch ideas turn into memes. One person will write about a cool feature or a fresh take on an issue, and a keen observer can almost literally see the ripples it makes across many blogs. People respond, they rebut, and they write their own variation of the idea based on their own experiences. One little post can inspire a lot of words!

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Causing ripples this week was a post by Rowan at I Have Touched the Sky titled “Axes to Grind”. Rowan writes that he’s frequently disappointed about how players treat game developers, and he wonders when it became “hip to be mean”. He feels that sometimes players just get too enthusiastic and defensive about their hobby and become overly eager to enforce what they see as the right way to play and make games. Players can forget that behind each line of code is a real person who just wants to make a living and perhaps create some special or entertaining moments for their audience.

Rowan’s response to all this perceived negativity is to adopt a new movement for the blogosphere, called Developer Appreciation Week. He encourages everyone to write a post about how much they appreciate game developers and how our lives are made more fun and more interesting because of their hard work.

Word of Developer Appreciation Week spread like wildfire in the community, and many, many blog posts were written in response. Perhaps as Rowan says being cynical about games and game developers is a trend right now, but it’s heartening to see that plenty of folks are eager to share their love for games and the people who make them.

This week Tales from the Neighborhood is joining the positivity party and sharing some of the great posts that were inspired by Developer Appreciation Week.

Our first stop is the blog Shards of Imagination. Author Rakuno is grateful for all of the games in his life, but for this post he focuses on singing the praises of Everquest 2 and Guild Wars 2. Yes, that’s right, Everquest 2! Rakuno knows that the older game isn’t at the front of most people’s minds nowadays, but he argues that it has an amazing depth of content with a little something for everyone, and that the decoration community is remarkably friendly and inclusive. Meanwhile Guild Wars 2 is the game that promised to reimagine MMOs and actually followed through in many ways, and while Rakuno isn’t playing it anymore he looks back fondly on the time he spent in Tyria.

Neri of Mama Needs Mana took up Rowan’s call for positivity and wrote a post called “The Five Best Video Games of my Lifetime”. It’s a personal list, and obviously not all of her choices are objectively perfect games, but they are all classics that hold special significance. Neri’s post is a great reminder that before we started reading Metacritic and waiting for Steam sales and writing snarky tweets about E3 presentations (we’ve all been there) we were kids who loved video games in all of their imperfect, occasionally goofy glory.

April Fool’s Day occurred in the middle of Developer Awareness Week, and in her post “Surviving April Fool’s Day” Rav from Ravalation talks about some of the high points of the unofficial Internet holiday. Star Wars: The Old Republic scored a hit with their faux proposal for adding “macro- and micro-mounts” to the game, as well as “stationery mounts” which look suspiciously like rocks. What Rav enjoyed most about April Fool’s Day this year though are the jokes her guildies played on each other. Pretending to be enraged and guild quit or implement crazy new member policies is a time-honored tradition in MMO circles at this time of year, and it’s fun to read about people who enthusiastically play along.

One of the inspirations behind Rowan’s original post was this fascinating interview with an anonymous, experienced game developer who wonders why, in his opinion, the general gaming audience seems to hate games and yet won’t stop buying them. In turn blogging stalwart Bhagpuss from Inventory Full breaks down some of the best quotations from that interview in his Developer Appreciation Week post “You’ve All Done Very Well”.

Bhagpuss notices indications of a “bunker mentality” in the anonymous developer’s words, and he is surprised to learn how often development companies will block themselves off from their game-buying public through a lack of engagement and omnipresent PR professionals. He doesn’t blame them though – Bhag notes that games are impossibly complicated and creating one at all is often a huge achievement of talent, hard work, and scheduling.

Bhagpuss concludes his post by making the excellent point that the role of game developer is not analogous to that of rock star, and gamers should resist acting as though that’s the case. Supporting developers doesn’t mean idolizing them, or never being critical of their work. What developers want is genuine support of their efforts and their industry, and an appreciation for all of the hours of delight that we players have gotten from our favorite MMOs and RPGs. 

For the most part bloggers start writing about video games because they love them. Part of what they write about is of course their own opinions, and those don’t always have to be positive. It’s helpful to remember though that developers are hard-working folks who have to balance what players want and what studios can reasonably provide. While being critical is healthy, being consistently negative and unpleasant is not.

So from Tales from the Neighborhood and all of the blogosphere: thank you to everyone who is involved in the creation of video games for creating worlds for us to get lost in, characters for us to fall in love with, and games that we love to play.

Jessica Cook / Jessica "Liore" Cook is a longtime MMO blogger, fan, aficionado, and community goodwill ambassador. She hosts the MMO podcast Game On, and writes the weekly column: Tales from the Neighborhood. You can read more at www.lioreblog.com.